Psycho: The character of Norman Bates Essay

Psycho: The character of Norman Bates Essay

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Norman Bates is arguably the most unforgettable character in the horror genre. His movements, voice and aura at first radiate a shy young man but transform into something more sinister as the movie Psycho (Hitchcock, USA, 1960) progresses. How has the director, Alfred Hitchcock, achieved this? Norman Bates was a careful construct: the casting, body language, lighting and even the subtle use of sound and mise-en-scène created the character.

Anthony ‘Tony’ Perkins was well known for his roles in romantic comediess. The attractive, shy, well-intentioned young man not only captured the hearts of many teenage girls, but the eye of Alfred Hitchcock when looking for the perfect Norman Bates. Hitchcock’s clever choice of actor immediately threw off the audience and made them ask what is Anthony Perkins doing in a horror film? Perkins' shy personality and slightly awkward movements did him well in his usual genre but did him even better when playing a homicidal schizophrenic. In fact, Perkins' portrayal of Bates made people second guess themselves as to who murdered Marion and Arbogast. This makes the movie significantly more thrilling.

The character of Norman Bates deviated from the book's original character, a forty year old pervert, to Anthony Perkins' character 'a tender vulnerable young man' one could almost feel sorry for. Perkins plays Norman Bates as if the role were written for him, with his nervous voice used throughout the movie and his awkward appearance and actions. A distinct part of Norman's character is his subtle lapses in which he shows signs of the ever present 'Mother'. The parlour scene is an excellent example of these lapses. The lines 'a boy's best friend is his mother' and 'we all go a little mad sometimes' are e...


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...and changed the horror genre forever. Alfred Hitchcock's use of actor, lighting, sound, scripting and mise-en-scène kept the audience on the edge of their seats and second guessing themselves. Hitchcock's idea of Norman cconnected with the audience and, even today, his character continues to deceive many. From Norman's nervous ticks to his murderous side 'Mother', it was planned flawlessly. Norman Bates was a combination of an author, director and actor, perfectly adapted to screen and perfectly portrayed.



Works Cited

http://cinephilefix.wordpress.com/2010/06/17/hitchcocks-symphony-psycho-a-shot-by-shot-commentary/
http://garbagedayreviews.wordpress.com/2011/10/04/birds-in-psycho/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anthony_Perkins
http://www.angelfire.com/oh2/writer/anthonyperkins.html
http://www.examiner.com/article/the-greatest-performance-of-all-time-a-horror-film

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